Smokin By gets Wairio Cup
NZ HARNESS NEWS
A testing introduction to standing start racing was not enough to stop Smokin By from winning the Wairio Cup on Saturday.
The Mitchell Kerr trained pacer entered the 2400m feature not having faced the standing start tape before on race day.
By the time he had won the race, bolting in by six-and-a-half lengths, he had seen it three times.
Kerr admitted there were a few nervous moments as he watched his pacer face two false starts, before finally stepping away in the race’s third attempt at beginning.
However, the trainer could not have been happier with the way his pacer handled the scenario.
“Every time there was a false start he kept getting better and better,” Kerr said.
“I was just hoping that he would go away and he did.
“That was probably the most pleasing part of the race, that he stepped so well.
“It just opens up a lot more races now he has shown he can step away.
Driver Nathan Williamson handled Smokin By patiently early in the race, before taking the pacer to the lead with a lap to run.
The further the race went on, the more it looked in Smokin By’s keeping.
The four-year-old would eventually score an empathic victory in the smart time of 2-58.8.
Smokin By will now head to the spelling paddock for a three-week break, before being aimed at feature racing in the autumn.
“We will give him a three-week break and bring him back and get him ready around March-April when a few of those nicer races are around,” Kerr said.
Smokin By’s victory sealed a winning double with Mach Three pacers for Kerr and Williamson.
Zinny Mach also scorched to a front running win in the race prior to the Wairio Cup.
The victory was the three-year-old’s second in a row, which showed he is back to his best form after a rocky start to the season.
Kerr put the horse’s patchy early season form down to the pacer losing confidence.
“He lost his confidence big time, he got knocked over twice in the Sire Stakes heats.”
“Now is he going like I knew he could.”
Zinny Mach would have one more start in Southland before possibly being tested against the country’s best three-year-olds again.
“He has a Nugget final down south next week and then he will be back up in Canterbury and we might tackle the bigger fish later on," Kerr said.
Kerr’s fellow Canterbury trainer, Mark Jones, had a big Wairio Cup day, bagging three winners.
He was in the sulky behind maiden winners Barret and Rokohula Joe.
Sheree Tomlinson reined Michelle to a trotting victory to complete a training treble for Jones.